The Woman Who Forgot Her Life

Info silverhawk
04 Nov. '17

I was six blocks away when the dispatcher called for a car in the vicinity of Broadway and Third.  I flipped on my lights and keyed my lapel mike to respond.

It was a purse snatching outside one of the upscale boutiques on Third.  Apparently it had gone bad and the woman had been hurt.  The dispatcher had the EMT’s on the way too.

When I pushed my way through the circle of people in front of the boutique, I saw a woman lying on her back and another woman sitting beside her.  The dispatcher said the 911 caller had been female, so I asked the sitting woman if she'd made the call.

“Yes, it was me.  She was just coming down the steps of the store when this man ran past and grabbed her purse.  She had it over her shoulder and when he pulled it off, he spun her around.  She fell and hit her head on the steps.”

I knelt beside the woman and looked her in the face.

She was in her late twenties, I figured, or maybe early thirties, and it was obvious she was still out of it a little.  Her pupils were dilated even though it was sunny, and she wasn’t moving much.

“How you doing, Miss.”

“I – I’m not sure.  What happened?”

“The report I got said someone knocked you down and took your purse.  Don’t you remember?”

The woman seemed to be thinking, and then looked at me.

“No.  I don’t remember anything like that”

She tried to sit up then, but I stopped her.

“Miss, you hit your head when you fell and you might be hurt more than you think.  Just stay down until the EMT’s get here.  Once they check you out, they’ll tell you if you can get up or not.”

I heard the siren on the ambulance as it turned off Broadway onto Third.  The ambulance stopped and two EMT’s got out.  I knew them both.  Barbara was a former nurse’s aide who got tired of changing bed pans and got herself certified as an EMT.  She was great with people.

Doug was a former Army medic.  I’d worked with him a few times.  He’d been steady as a rock when I felt a little queasy at times, especially at car wrecks.  He was great with people too.

They walked up carrying their cases of equipment.  Doug asked what had happened.  I filled him in on what little I knew.  He smiled at the woman.

“Hi there, Ma’am.  I hear you have a bump on the head, but let’s be sure that’s all it is.”

While Doug did his examination, I talked to the 911 caller.  She didn’t have much more information than she’d already given me.

She hadn’t seen the guy’s face because he was wearing a black hoodie, and he’d been running when he grabbed the woman’s purse.  He ran off as soon as he had it, and hadn’t looked in the woman’s direction.  All she really knew is he was about as tall as I am, but pretty skinny.

She knew he was a man because his jeans fit pretty tight.  She said he also ran like a man would run.  I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I wrote it down anyway.

After that I asked the other people standing around if anyone had seen anything but they all said they hadn’t.   

About that time, Doug tapped me on the shoulder.

“Mike, I’m not absolutely sure what I’ve got here, so I’m going to transport her to Mercy.  Her pupils are still dilated and she couldn’t follow my light very well.  It might just be a mild concussion, but I want to be sure.”

I said I needed to talk to her again if that was OK.  He frowned.

“You can talk to her if you want, but I don’t think you’re going to get much.  She says she doesn’t remember anything.”

She was sitting up when I walked over.

“Hi, Miss.  I’m Officer Bryan.  I need to file a report about this incident and I need some more information.  Let’s start with your name.”

Her bottom lip quivered, and she sniffed.

“I can’t tell you. That man asked me the same question.   I’ve been sitting here trying to remember, but I can’t remember who I am.”

“Well, how about any identification you have on you, you know, drivers license, voter registration, credit cards, things like that?”

She sniffed again.

“I suppose that was all in my purse, but I don’t remember having a purse either.”

I stood up and walked over to Doug and Barbara.

“Either of you ever see anything like this before?”

Doug shook his head.

“Nope.  A lot of the guys I treated in Afghanistan couldn’t remember the truck blowing up or getting shot, but they always knew who they were.”

Barbara was nodding.

“When I was a nurse, we’d sometimes get a patient with a severe head injury.  They sometimes couldn’t remember much that happened before that for a while, but they still remembered their name, whether they were married or not, where they lived, stuff like that.”

I nodded because that’s what I thought was normal for something like this.

“I’m going to talk to some more people and find out if there are any security cameras on the block that might have caught what happened.  I’ll talk to her again once you get her to the hospital.  Maybe she’ll remember something by then.”

Doug and Barbara took her to Mercy.  I went inside the boutique and asked the girl at the register if she knew the woman.  She said the woman had been there before, but she didn’t know her name.   I asked if she’d paid with a credit card, but the girl said she hadn’t bought anything this time.  She also remembered that the last time the woman had made a purchase, she’d paid in cash.

The manager of the boutique said they had security cameras inside, but nothing outside, so I checked with every store on both sides of the block.  I found two cameras that had a view of the front of the boutique.  One just across the street at a coffee shop showed me an excellent quality video of the guy running up, grabbing the woman’s purse, and then high-tailing it down the block.  The only problem with that one was it was looking at his back.

The other was at the end of the block on the same side of the street and had also recorded the whole thing.  It was just too far away to make out a face even if the guy hadn’t been wearing a hoodie.  It did show the guy ducking into the alley in the middle of the block.

I asked both stores burn a disk of the recording from half an hour before to half an hour after the incident.  In the past, the techs in the lab had been able to clean up bad recordings, and when they go through them frame by frame, sometimes they see things most people wouldn’t.  I hoped maybe they could do something with these.

I drove down to the alley then, parked the squad car, and started walking.  Purse snatchers usually don’t hang on to the purse for very long.  They’ll find someplace they think is safe, dump out the contents and take any cash and credit cards they find, and then drop the purse and run off again.  Since nobody chased the perp into the alley, I figured he might have dropped the purse there.

I found a purse in the third dumpster I checked.  It was light blue, and the purse in the video looked to be the same color, so I put it in an evidence bag, wrote the date, time and place in the blanks on the bag, then sealed it and put it in the trunk of the patrol car. I’d hoped to at least find something like a receipt with the woman’s name or credit card number, but the purse was empty.  

Evidently the dumpster had been dumped that morning, because there was nothing else it it.  The only other things around were a lipstick, compact, hairbrush, six condoms, and one tampon on the ground in front of it where the guy had turned it upside down.

After checking all the other dumpsters in the alley as well as around and behind each one, I’d found nothing, so I drove back to the station and started my report.

After lunch, I drove to Mercy, explained to the girl at the desk about the woman, and asked if she’d been admitted.  She checked her computer.

“Officer, we have a Jane Doe in room two twenty four. She was brought into the ER a couple hours ago.  She’s the only Jane Doe we have, so that might be her.”

I said I’d have to see her to be sure.  She told me to go on up.

When I got to the nurse’s station on the second floor, I asked the nurse at the desk if she knew anything about the woman in room two twenty four.  She checked the chart hanging behind her desk.

“She was brought up about an hour ago.  She’s not hurt that bad, but she can’t remember her name.  The ER doctor admitted her for observation and a psych exam.  She’s getting the psych exam right now.  It’ll be about half an hour before she’s back in her room.”

“Is her doctor still in the hospital?”

She looked a schedule above her phone.

“That’s Doctor Harris, and he’s in ER until six tonight.”

“What about the psychiatrist.”

The nurse looked at her chart again.

“That would be, let’s see…Doctor Rice.  He’s not on staff, so he’ll probably be here until about four.”

The ER wasn’t very busy at that time of day, but I figured it wouldn’t be.  Most of the things you see happening on TV take place in a real ER after dark.  It wasn’t often we got called out to a beating, stabbing or shooting during daylight.  It usually happened after dark, and the victim would go to one of the ERs in the city.

There were a few people there coughing and one guy in a hard hat with an ice pack on his hand, but the atmosphere was almost relaxed. The cute little nurse at the desk smiled at me when I asked if she could page Doctor Harris for me.

Doctor Blake Harris looked too young to be a doctor, but I suppose that was because I’m thirty eight and he was about ten years younger.  He walked up and stuck out his hand when he saw me standing at the nurse’s desk.

“Hi Officer, I’m Blake Harris.  What can I do for you?”

“The EMT’s brought a woman in earlier.  She’d hit her head and couldn’t remember anything, even her name.  The nurse on her floor said you were the doctor who saw her.  She was the victim of a purse snatching, and I need to talk to her about it.  She didn’t seem to remember anything when I talked to her before.  I was wondering if she’s remembered anything since.”

“Yes, I saw her and no, she hasn’t remembered anything.  Her condition is extremely rare.  I’ve never seen it before, only read about it.  She has a mild concussion, but that wouldn’t be enough to cause a complete memory loss.  That’s why I admitted her and asked for the psych eval.”

It would sound like I was questioning his diagnosis, but I had to ask.

“Could she be faking the memory loss?  I’ve seen that before.”

He frowned.

“I suppose it’s possible, but I don’t think she is.  She seems too lost to be faking anything, and she’s just different, somehow.  We get the occasional case of amnesia in here because of a car wreck or spousal abuse.  She’s…well, different is the only word that comes to mind.  It’s like her whole life just went away.    That’s not a clinical diagnosis, just an experienced observation.  It’s my guess she has some other problem that’s causing it, but I’m sure it’s not physical.  The shrink can probably tell you more once he’s talked to her.”

The clock on the wall told me the woman would probably be back in her room by then, so I took the elevator to the third floor and Doctor Rice’s office.  I wanted to hear what he had to say before I talked to the woman again.

Howard Rice was the guy you see in the movies playing a psychiatrist.  He was a small, older man, had a beard, and looked at me through thick, wire-rimmed glasses.  He even wore a bow tie.  He frowned when I asked him about the woman.

“What Blake told you is correct.  I’m not yet sure what her problem is, but it’s definitely not physical.  If she’d not lost her memory, there would have been no need for her to be here.  That bump on the head will be gone in a couple of days.

“No, she has a mental problem.  I’m just not sure what it is yet.  The brain is still a mystery for the most part.  We have a pretty good understanding of how commands get transferred from the brain to the rest of the body, and we know what most parts of the brain do, but that’s about it.   When it comes to how and why it does what it does, it’s a bit like that old child’s game where you put your hand in a closed box and try to figure out what’s inside.  You have to keep feeling around until you find something that gives you a clue.

“If I had to make a diagnosis right now, I’d say something in her past triggered the memory loss when she hit her head.  We know the brain will try to protect itself from remembering traumatic experiences by forgetting them.  That’s been well documented.  Women usually don’t remember the pain of childbirth, for example.  Most people can’t describe what happened to them in a car accident.  A lot of abused spouses don’t remember what happened even though they were beaten pretty badly.  If the trauma is severe enough, sometimes the brain apparently decides it’s too bad to remember and just stops remembering it.

“Like I said, it’s not easy to figure out.  I’ll talk to her every day for the next few days, but whatever it is, I think it must be pretty deep. I might never find it unless her subconscious wants me to.  Sometimes that does happen.”

I thanked Doctor Rice, gave him my card, and asked if he’d call me if he learned anything else.  Then I went to talk with the woman.

She was sitting up in bed and watching television when I knocked on the door.  She looked at me and smiled.

“The nurse said you’d be in to talk to me.”

She looked at the person in the other bed.

“Could we go somewhere else?”

“I could buy us a cup of coffee in the cafeteria.”

She grinned.

“I don’t think I want to be anywhere that public.  These hospital gowns don’t close in the back very well and they slide around all over the place.  Maybe we could just go to the waiting room down the hall?”

She was right about the hospital gowns.  When she slid off the bed, hers rode up her leg.  She quickly pulled it back down, but not before I saw a very sensuous and very soft looking thigh.  She just grinned again.

“See enough or should I get back on the bed and slide off again?”

“Well, I wasn’t really looking.”

“Sure you weren’t, just like I remember everything that happened today.  It’s OK.  I’m flattered you thought I was worth looking at.”

We talked for a few minutes in the waiting room on that floor, but I didn’t get any more information.  What I did get was the feeling the woman was really frustrated.  She just sighed when I asked her if she remembered anything yet.

“No.  I’ve tried and tried, but there’s nothing there.  Doctor Rice said maybe if I watched television, I’d remember seeing one of the shows or one of the actors before and that would help.  It didn’t.”

She looked at me and I saw her eyes fill with tears.

“What’s going to happen to me if I can’t remember who I am or anything that happened before today?”

I wasn’t sure about that because I’d never known of anyone with her condition before.  I couldn’t tell her that, of course.  I tried to sound optimistic and hoped that might help her.

“Oh, I’m sure you’ll remember who you are in a day or so, and in time, you’ll remember everything else too.  It was just the bump on the head that caused this, and as soon as that’s better, you will be too.  The doctor in the ER said it wasn’t serious.”

She sniffed and wiped her eyes with her hand.

“Yeah, that’s what he told me too, but Doctor Rice said I have some kind of mental condition that needs to be fixed too.  He doesn’t know what it is though.”

“Yes, I know.  I talked to Doctor Rice.”

“So, if he can’t find out what it is and fix it, what do I do?  I don’t have any money and I don’t remember what I do for a living or where I live or if I have family or…”

She started to cry then, and I let her.  It wasn’t that I didn’t feel her frustration.  I would have probably cried too if I was in her situation.  I just didn’t know what to do to make her feel better.  I did know of two ways I might be able to identify her though.  Once she stopped crying and blew her nose, I told her those two ways.

“I can’t help you remember, but I can maybe find out who you are if you agree.”

She blew her nose again and then looked at me.

“Right now, I’d do anything.”

“OK, what I’ll do is take a couple of pictures of you with my cell phone, and we’ll put them on the news and in the newspaper and ask anyone who knows you to come forward and identify you.  I’ll also have a tech come and take your fingerprints.  The fingerprints are a long shot, because unless you’ve been fingerprinted before, neither the state nor the FBI will have a record of you.  It’s worth a try.  What do you think?”

She chuckled.

“You want to take my picture like this?  I’m not exactly looking my best.”

“Just your face from the front and each profile.  Your hair covers the bump so it won’t show.”

I took the three pictures and told her I’d send a tech up the next day for her prints.  Then I asked her if I could get anything for her.  She looked surprised.

“Why would you do that?”

The real reason wasn’t very professional.  I liked her and I wanted to help her if I could.  It wasn’t seeing her thigh or the way her breasts wobbled softly under the hospital gown, though I hadn’t missed either.  It was a couple other things really.

When she’d slid off the bed and exposed her thigh, she hadn’t been embarrassed or upset.  She’d just laughed and joked about it.  That told me whoever she was, she had a sense of humor and was also pretty confident about herself.  I liked both.  The other thing was when she’d cried.  

I’ve seen a lot of women cry and it’s pretty easy to tell if they’re faking it or not.  Many women try tears to keep from getting arrested or to get out of a ticket.  This woman wasn’t faking anything.

“Well, since I was the officer on the scene, your case is mine now and I hate not being able to solve a case.  I just thought maybe if I brought you a book or a magazine, it might help you remember and I could close my case.”

“I don’t remember what kind of books and magazines I like.”

“Well, I’ll just bring a few different ones tomorrow then, if that’s OK.”

She shrugged.

“I don’t suppose it can hurt.”

The next morning when I got in, I checked with the lab to see if they’d been able to do anything with the video or with the purse.  Cheryl, a petite little redhead with a fantastic smile said she had.

“The first camera caught the guy watching the front of the store about ten minutes before your woman came out.  A couple times, he looked across the street and directly into that camera.  I blew up the pictures, so maybe you can get an ID from them.  The other one was too far away, so I couldn’t do much with it.  

Cheryl held up the blue purse I'd found.

“This purse is interesting.  Ever hear of a Deleroux purse?”

“No, can’t say as I have.”

“The women who buy them have more money than they know what to do with.  They go for around five hundred or so.”

“Five hundred dollars?”

“Yep, and this one is almost new.  Your woman either has a lot of money of her own or a really understanding boyfriend or husband.  I got a partial print off the purse handle.  It’s probably hers, but it might be from the perp.  I sent it in for an ID.  We should know in a day or so as long as they have digital prints on file.  The state and FBI still have some prints they haven’t digitized yet. If that’s the case, it could take up to a week.”

I talked to Jake Morris, the lab supervisor, and asked if he’d send a tech to take the woman’s prints.  He said it would be in the afternoon, but he would.

The pictures Cheryl gave me looked familiar.  I pulled up the known purse snatchers on my computer terminal and started clicking through them one by one.  I found the guy after fifty three. It was obviously him, because both my picture and the mug shot had the same birthmark on the guy’s forehead.

His name was Willard Ward, and he’d done a year for the same thing.  I must have seen him in a holding cell at one time or another and remembered the birth mark.  Willard didn’t like his name, and was known on the street as Willy.  He’d been released from custody a week earlier.  You’d think he’d have taken up a different occupation since he’d already been caught once, but I guess some people take a while to figure things out.

Willard’s last known address was on the east side of town.  He’d lived there with one Peggy Ann Dunston.  Since he’d repeated his crime, I figured he might not have changed the woman either.  I checked the state DMV for her name and found the same address.

He wasn’t there when I knocked on the door, but Peggy was.  I asked if she’d seen Willy lately.  

“No, I ain’t seen the fucking little bastard since he went to prison. but he should be here.  He’s got a kid he needs to be taking care of.”

Looking at Peggy, I couldn’t figure out why Willard would have shacked up with her, let along done anything to get her pregnant.  Peggy wasn’t much to look at.  It might have helped if she’d done something with her hair and had worn something other than the tight top and yoga pants.  

She’d not lost what my sister called her “baby weight” if that’s what it was, and the yoga pants were pretty good proof of that.  She had huge breasts, and maybe Willard liked that sort of thing, but her ass was enough to turn me off.  I mean, I like a woman to have a figure and that includes a nice round ass.  I just can’t seem to appreciate an ass that sticks out in the back as far as Peggy’s did.

“Would you know of any place I might find Willard?”

“What’s he done this time?”

“I just want to talk to him and see how he’s doing.”

“Yeah, I fucking bet that’s all.  He’s got his skinny fucking ass in trouble again.  He used to hang out at a garage on eighty second.  Mel’s something.  At least that’s what he always called it.  He might be there.  You find the little fucker, you let me know.  I wanna kick his ass.”

As I drove away from the house, I had to chuckle.  Willard’s file said he weighed in at one twenty eight.  Peggy went at least two ten if not more.  It would have been fun watching her kick his ass.

The garage was actually called Melvin’s Motors, or at least that’s the only garage I could find with Mel in the name.  At one time, it had been a gas station with two service bays for oil changes and tire work.  Now, it was just a run down building with the gas pump islands still there but no pumps.

There were a couple cars and one truck parked in front so it looked like the place was still in business, but even though the two garage doors were standing open, there didn’t seem to be anybody around.  I walked inside and yelled to see if anybody was.

I heard, “Hang on until I get this drain plug tight”, from under an older pickup truck in the left bay.  There was the sound of a ratchet wrench turning for a while before a guy climbed out of the pit under the truck.  He wiped his hands on a rag before walking over to where I stood.

“I’m Melvin.  What can I do for you officer?”

The guy was about fifty and he looked nervous.  The tattoo on his right hand just below his wrist told me why.  There were five small dots like you’d see on a die.  The four dots on the outside symbolized the walls of a prison cell.  The one dot in the center symbolized the guy trapped inside.  At some point in his life, he’d seen the inside of a cell for a while and talking to a cop might mean he was in danger of going back.

When cops learn how to interrogate someone, we’re taught to read the person’s voice and body language to understand if he’s scared, lying, or trying to cover something up, and to use that knowledge to our advantage.  It isn’t unusual for one person to cover for another out of some twisted sense of loyalty or fear of retaliation. I wanted Melvin to understand that if he knew where Willard might be, not giving me that information would probably turn out to be bad for him.

“I’m looking for Willard Ward.  I heard he hangs out around here.  I figure that means you’re a friend of his, maybe even a partner.”

“What do you want Willy for?  He’s only been out a week or so.  He done something already?”

“That’s between me and Mr. Ward.  Have you seen him or know where he might be?  If you do, it would go better for you if you tell me.  Hiding him could be considered aiding and abetting, and you know where that leads.”

The guy got even more nervous, but he started to talk.

“I ain’t gonna lie to you officer.  I done my time and I ain’t goin’ back for helpin’ nobody, much less Willy.  Willy come by the shop about a week ago and asked if I needed any help.  I told him I didn’t.  Them new cars are hard to figger out lessen you got one of them damned computer things.  I ain’t got one, so about all I can do anymore is change the oil in ‘em.  I don’t charge as much as Walmart and I’m closer to some folks, so I get enough of those to pay the bills, but that’s all.  

“I told him I can handle what business I do get and can’t afford to pay any help anyway.  He left then and I ain’t seen him since.  Don’t care if I do neither.  He
used to be a decent kid afore he started snatchin’ purses.  I tried to tell him it weren’t worth it, but he wouldn’t listen.”

“Any ideas about where me might have gone?”

“Well, if he snatched another one, he’ll have to find a place to sell the credit cards.  That’d be on the street cause none of the pawn shops’ll touch ‘em like they might a watch or jewelry.  Last I heard, Big Sammy was buyin’ ‘em.”

Well, it was a start.  I wasn’t sure I believed the guy, but it was a start.

“Does Big Sammy have a name?”

“I don’t know.  I ain’t never seen the guy and I don’t want to.  All I ever heard was Big Sammy.”

He seemed to relax a little when I thanked him for the information.  He probably relaxed a lot once I got back in the squad car and drove off.

My shift was almost over so I drove back to the station and turned in the squad car, then drove my SUV to Mercy to see the woman.  When I walked through the automatic door, I remembered I’d forgotten to buy her anything to read.  A quick stop at the hospital shop fixed that.  Ten minutes later, I knocked on the door of her room.

She smiled when I sat the bag on the bed.

“I thought you’d probably forget.  You must have better things to do.”

“Nah.  I promised you, didn’t I?’

I sat the bag on the bed.

“I didn’t know what you might like so I got an assortment.  I bought a romance novel, a mystery novel, and one about vampires.  There’s also a fashion magazine, and one about sewing.  You can tell me tomorrow night which ones you like.”

“You’re coming back tomorrow too?”

I grinned.

“I told you I don’t like unsolved cases.  I’ll see you every night until you remember or I find out who you are.”

She frowned.

“Finding out who I am isn’t really part of your case, is it?  It’s finding out who stole my purse and knocked me down.”

What she said was partly true.  It was the doctor’s task to get her memory back, but if Willard had picked her out for some reason I needed to know what that reason was.  I’d only find that out if Willard told me, assuming I caught him, or if I found out who she was and there was a connection of some type.

“Well, yes and no.  I am working on who stole your purse, but if you were to remember what happened, it would make finding and convicting him a lot easier.  The psychiatrist told me sometimes seeing something that used to be familiar can start the memories coming back.  Maybe one of these books will do that.”

She sighed.

“I doubt it.  I talked to him again today. He’s almost as lost as I am.  All he could tell me was that my brain is blocking my memories for some reason.  It’s like that book, “Catch 22”.  I can’t remember anything because my brain is blocking everything in my past.  If I can’t remember anything, I can’t tell the psychiatrist what it is so he can talk me through it and I’ll be able to remember what it was.”

“You remember reading ‘Catch 22’?”

She sighed.

“No, I didn’t read it.  The movie was on television right after lunch.”

It sounded like a lost cause unless I could identify her, but I tried to be sympathetic.

“Don’t give up yet.  We haven’t heard from the state or the FBI yet.  They might have your fingerprints on file.  If they do, we’ll know who you are.  Once you know that, I’d bet the memories will start coming back.”

“Yeah, if I’m a criminal.  I think I’d rather not remember that if I am.”

I shrugged.

“There are a lot of reasons people have their fingerprints taken.  Military service is one. I got fingerprinted when I became a cop.  Companies with bonded employees take prints from those employees.  Give me a week, and I’ll know one way or another.”

She frowned.

“I don’t have a week.  Since there’s nothing physically wrong with me they’re releasing me Friday afternoon.  I still have to come back to talk with Doctor Rice every other day, but they won’t let me stay here.  They’re sending me to a half-way house.  Know anything about the one on Coral Drive?  It’s called New Beginnings.”

It sounded to me like the hospital was abandoning her to her fate, but then, if she didn’t know who she was, she wouldn’t know if she had insurance or not.  Mercy was a non-profit hospital, but they still had to make ends meet.  If she was capable of looking after herself, they really had no choice but to release her.

I did know of the half-way house on Coral.  It was a place run by a charity for people with mental problems like depression or anxiety.

“Yes, I know a little about it.  From what I hear, it’s pretty nice.  You’ll have a private room and three meals a day.  It’s run by a charity, so you won’t have to pay anything.”

Her face turned hopeful.

“Do you think you could take me there?  Doctor Rice said they’d send a bus to pick me up, but…well, I don’t want to ride a bus with a bunch of crazy people.”

I smiled.  

“The people there aren’t crazy, but I’ll take you.  You’ll have to sit in the lobby if they release you before four or so.  It’ll take me that long to get here from the station.”

I left a little after that.  We didn’t have much to talk about because she didn’t remember anything except the last two days.  That night, I laid in bed hoping she’d remember something, anything that would help me find out who she was.  I figured it must be hell knowing you didn’t know your own name.  She was too nice a woman to have to go through something like that.

I spent the next morning trying to find Big Sammy.  Our data base said some guy named Sam Laurel used that alias, so I ran his name for priors.

Sam was definitely small time.  He’d been convicted of trying to sell stolen merchandise to a pawn shop.  The pawn shop owner thought it a little suspicious that any guy would have six cameras to sell at the same time.  He also saw what he thought was a social security number engraved on one of them.  He told Sam he had to check with an expert on prices and to come back the next day.  

Sam must not be the sharpest tack in the box, because he did go back.  The two plain-clothes detectives arrested him and traced the camera with the social security number to a home robbery two weeks before.

Sam said he didn’t know the name of the guy who sold him the cameras and swore he thought they were the guy’s property.  Unfortunately for Sam, he’d been a little too greedy.  If he’d tried to sell just one, he might have skated.  Six sounded to the jury like he was either a thief or a fence.

Like every cop, I had a couple people on the street who’d tell me what they knew as long as there was something in it for them.  In Judy’s case that something was the twenty dollar bill I waved at her when I stopped at the light on the corner she worked.  

Judy is a prostitute I’d arrested several years before.  I hadn’t been on the force very long, so she didn’t know my face.  She got in my plain car and started listing off her services.  After hearing how much a blow job with a condom would cost me, how much she charged to ride my cock in the front seat or let me fuck her in the back seat, both only with a condom, and that she never let anybody fuck her in the ass, I stopped her and showed her my badge.

She offered me my choice of a freebie if let her go, but I couldn’t very well do that. I did have another idea though.  Judy jumped at the chance to become an informant, and she’d given me some valuable information in the past.  I hoped she either knew or could find out where Big Sammy was.

When she saw me, she pointed toward the parking garage a block away.  The garage was our usual meeting place.  I drove to the third floor and found a parking spot.  Judy walked up the stairs a few minutes later.  I was standing by them waiting on her.

She popped her chewing gum and asked what I wanted.

“You know a guy named Big Sammy?”

“Yeah…he buys stuff sometimes.”

“I need to talk to him.”

“What about?”

“About Willard Ward.”

She laughed.

“You mean Willy, don’tcha?”

“You know him?”

“Yeah.  Before he went to prison, he used to come see me about once a week.  He likes to have his dick sucked and his girlfriend wouldn’t do it.”

“Have you seen him since he got out?”

“Yeah…last night.  He wanted a blow job.”

“Any idea where I could find him?”

“Sure.  He’s living with his new girlfriend over on Sixty Third between Rawson and Elm.  That’s what he told me anyway. She won’t suck his dick either so he came to see me.  She does like fucking another girl though.  He wanted to know how much I’d charge for both him and his girlfriend.  I said it would depend on where I had to go.  That’s when he told me.”

“You wouldn’t happen to have the address, would you?”

“No…but he said he said the house is green.”

I handed Judy the twenty, but she frowned.

“My man will want to know what I was doing here for so long.  I can tell him I was fucking a guy, but a fuck is fifty.”

I smiled.

“Tell you what.  You tell your man it was a blow job and it took a while because you had to go up and down the steps to the top floor.  If I find Willy, I’ll come back with the other thirty.”

That Thursday morning, Mack pulled his patrol car up beside me in the gas station on the corner of Sixty Third and Elm.  I wanted some backup in case Willard tried to get out the back door while I was knocking on the front.  Mack walked down the alley to the back of the green house and then called on his radio to let me know he was ready.  I walked up to the front door and knocked.

The woman who answered had that really unnatural, really red hair that could only come out of a bottle.  It was almost one, but she just wore a thin robe.  Her breasts were just as big as Peggy’s but the rest of her was a lot slimmer.  I guessed Willard had decided thin was in.  The woman’s ass wasn’t really thin like her waist, but it was an ass that would probably be a lot of fun.

I asked if Willard Ward lived there.  She turned sort of pale and swallowed.

“Yes.”

“Is he here?”

She turned and yelled down the hallway.

“Willy, there’s a cop here.  He wants to talk to you.”

All I saw of Willard was his ass in his undershorts as he ran down the hall and into what I later found out was the kitchen.  That’s where the back door was.  Mack tackled him before he got out of the back yard.

I got Willard booked and into an orange jumpsuit, and then sat him down in an interrogation room.  I left for about fifteen minutes to give him time to think.  He’d been in the system once, so he’d figure we wouldn’t have hauled his ass in unless we had some proof.  If we had that much proof, he’d probably end up back in prison unless he could find some way out. I wanted him to sweat for a while.  It would make it easier to get the answers I was looking for.

I made sure the camera in the interrogation room was recording and then walked into the room with my case file in hand and sat down.

“How you doing, Willard?”

“How the fuck you think I’m doing?  That big fucking cop like to have broke my fucking back when he tackled me.”

I chuckled.

“Well, Mack played football in high school.  He probably does hit pretty hard.  Sorry about that, but he couldn’t let you get away, now could he?”

“How come you drug my ass to jail?  I ain’t done nothin’.”

“Well, Willard, there was a purse snatching outside a boutique a few days ago.  I figure you might know something about it.”

He slammed his hand down on the table.

“Stop calling my Willard.  My name is Willy, and I don’t know nothing about no fucking boutique or any fucking purse snatching.”

I grinned.

‘OK, I’ll call you Willy.  Willy, you probably didn’t know there was a security camera on the coffee shop across the street from that boutique, did you?”

He slammed his hand down on the table again.

“I already told you I wasn’t there.”

I stopped smiling then.

“Willy, if you slam your hand down on my table again, I’ll take you to holding and let you sit there for a while.  Well, you probably won’t be sitting for long.  We brought in a really big guy this morning, Stick is what he goes by if I remember right.  I heard he likes having little guys like you…well, from what I hear you like having that done too.  He goes about two fifty, two seventy five, so I doubt any of the other guys in holding would try to stop him from uh…well, you know.  Maybe after he’s had his fun, you’ll be more talkative.  We can play this easy, or we can play it hard?  Which is it gonna be?”

Willard glared at me, but then said “Easy”.

“OK.  That security camera shows you standing outside the boutique for at least ten minutes before the woman came out.  Then it shows you running past her, grabbing her purse, and then running down the sidewalk and into the alley, so I have you on theft.  You knocked her down in the process and she hit her head on the steps.  That’s assault.  The woman’s in pretty bad shape.  If she should die…well, if the DA’s in a good mood, that would be at least involuntary manslaughter.  If he’s not…”

“You can’t prove none of that.”

I opened the case file and took out the picture the techs had enlarged from the video.  I laid it in front of Willard.

“Unless you have a twin brother with the same birthmark, this is you.  I drove down that alley myself and found the woman’s purse in the dumpster where you tossed it.  The techs lifted your fingerprints off the handle.  That’s enough proof to make sure you spend some more time behind bars.  I figure you’ll get a year for the purse, maybe two because it’ll be the second offense, and another couple for the assault charge, well unless the worst happens.  Then you’d probably get maybe fifteen years or so...if the DA’s in a good mood like I said.”

I’d lied about his fingerprints.  All I knew for sure was Cheryl had found a partial.  I didn’t yet have an ID.  I’d also lied about the woman’s condition.  The law is a funny thing sometimes.  It’s perfectly legal for me to lie out my ass about almost anything during an interrogation.  I just can’t lie once I’m on the witness stand.  Willard hadn’t asked for a lawyer yet.  I was hoping those lies would convince him to confess before he did.

Willard looked at the picture, then at me, and then at the picture again.  He frowned and whispered “fuck”, then frowned at me.

“I snatched the purse, and I put it in that dumpster, but I didn’t mean to hurt her.  The bitch just had the purse over her arm, and when I jerked if off, she fell down.  That was an accident, not assault.  If you’re gonna charge me with assault, I want a lawyer.”

“The DA will have to make that decision.  I could probably get him to drop the assault charge, well, as long as it’s just assault anyway.  I’d like some honest answers to a few questions before I do that though.  Did you know the woman?”

“Fuck no, man.  She just looked like a rich bitch who’d have a bunch of credit cards I could sell.”

“Who’d you sell her credit cards to?”

“I didn’t ‘cause there weren’t no fucking credit cards.  All the bitch had in that purse was a cell phone and three hundred and change in fucking cash.  I got twenty for the phone.”

“Who’d you sell the cell phone to?”

“I don’t know man.  It was just some fucking kid on the street.  Said he was gonna play games on it.”

“You didn’t get a name?”

“Yeah, like I asked him to sign a contract before I’d sell it to him.  Fuck no, I didn’t get a name.”

“You’re sure that was all she had in the purse?  If I find out anything different, I guarantee the DA won’t drop the assault charge.”

Willard held up his hands.

“Look man, I’m telling the truth.  There weren’t no credit cards.  If there had been, I’d have sold them to Big Sammy.  Go ask him.  He’ll tell you I never had any to sell.”

I really hadn’t expected him to tell me who he’d have sold the cards to, but it was probably enough to get a warrant for Big Sammy and to search his house.

“This Big Sammy…he buys stolen credit cards?”

“Yeah.  Fifty bucks for each one as long as it’s no more’n a day since they got stole.  People cancel ‘em after that and they ain’t worth shit.”

“Would you testify to that in court?”

“Will the DA drop the assault charge?”

I said I’d see what the DA thought, but I already knew.  Tim would jump at the chance to get two guys off the street, especially if Willard pled guilty and saved the time and cost of a trial.  It would probably be a stretch to convict Willard on an assault charge anyway.

I gave Willard a pad of paper and a pen and told him to write down everything he’d just told me.  When he was done, I read through the confession.  A lawyer would probably say he was coerced, but the video of the interrogation would pretty much eliminate that defense.  Willard would be going back to prison, and with any luck, so would Big Sammy.

After putting Willard in a holding cell, I went to talk to Tim.  He agreed with me about the assault charge, and said he’d get a warrant for Big Sammy. I went back to a desk and added the new information to the case report I was writing.  Once that was done, I drove by Judy’s corner, gave her three more tens and then went home.  After changing clothes, I drove back to the hospital.

She was waiting for me in the lobby and smiled when I walked up to her chair.

“You’re earlier than I thought you’d be.”

“I caught the guy who took your purse.  Once he confessed, I didn’t have much to do so I took off a little early.  You ready to go?”

She smiled.

“I guess so.”

On the way to New Beginnings we talked a little.  She’d started reading the mystery novel, but hadn’t liked it.  She didn’t like the vampire one either.  She did like the romance novel, and had finished it.

“It was kind of like I am”, she said.  “The woman felt lost without the man she loved and tried really hard to get him back.  I’m lost without my memory and I’m trying really hard to find it.  It just isn’t happening.”

“She did finally get him, though, didn’t she?”

“Yes.”

“Well, see, you’ll get your memory back too.”

I stayed with the woman until they had her checked in and in her room.  I promised to come back the next day with a couple more romance novels.

The next afternoon, I made a couple of traffic stops and then went back to the station to finish my report.  The desk sergeant handed me a sheet of paper when I walked into the station.

“We got an anonymous tip about your Jane Doe.    The guy said he saw the picture on the news and recognized her.  It’s all here.”

I took the paper back to a desk and sat down to read it.

According to the caller, her name was Corrine Draves, and she was an escort.  He didn’t elaborate about how he knew that, but then, people with enough money to pay for an escort usually would rather they weren’t publicly connected to that escort in any way, shape, or form.  It did make some sense, though.  An escort would deal only in cash, so that might explain why she didn’t have credit cards.  

I ran the name through the state database and came up with nothing.  Corrine Draves didn’t have a driver’s license, and had never been arrested.  NCIS didn’t have anything either.  There was no credit report when I tried that.  If the woman was Corrine Draves, she somehow managed to live off the grid.  With enough cash, she probably could, but I couldn’t figure out why she’d want to.

Willard wouldn’t be arraigned until the next day, so I didn’t have anything more  to do as far as his case went.  I walked upstairs to the lab to see if they’d gotten any results back from the prints.  Cheryl frowned when I asked her.

“Well, yes and no.  The print on the purse matched the right index finger of your perp, Willard.  The woman’s prints came back from the FBI as belonging to a Cindy Davis from Biloxi, Mississippi.”

“Great job, Cheryl.  I can put Willard away for a while, and I know who my Jane Doe is.”

“No, it isn’t. It’s a mess.  I ran her name through the Biloxi PD database.  She was printed when she was arrested for possession of marijuana.  She was seventeen at the time and living with her parents.  They bailed her out, and she was awaiting trial when Katrina hit.  

“Her parents evidently thought they could weather it out and stayed in their home.  The house was leveled.  They found her parents in the wreckage and they were both dead, but they never found Cindy.  She’s listed as missing, but her sister had her declared dead five years later so the estate could be settled.

“It has to be a mistake, but the FBI never makes mistakes with prints.   I asked them to confirm, and the results came back Cindy Davis again.  Either Cindy has risen from the dead, or she’s been hiding really, really well.”

I only knew one person who could answer that, and she couldn’t remember.  I thought maybe if I told her what I’d found out, she might.  I drove to New Beginnings after going home and changing my clothes.

She was happy to see me.

“I’m getting used to having you come see me.  It’s going to be hard to stop.”

I smiled back.

“I guess that’s a good thing.  How are they treating you?”

“OK, I guess.  It’s not where I’d like to live forever, but it’s a roof, a bed, and three meals a day.  The meals aren’t all that great though.  Dinner last night was roast beef with carrots and potatoes.  The carrots and potatoes weren’t bad.  The beef was as tough as shoe leather.

Lunch was chicken soup.  I think they just waved a chicken leg over the pot in order to call it that.  There wasn’t any chicken in mine that I could find.”

“Have you remembered anything?”

“No, not yet.  Have you found out anything about me?”

“Yes, I have but it’s confusing.  Let’s take a walk.”

Once we were outside, I asked her if the name Corrine Draves mean anything to her.”

“Is that who I am?”

“I don’t know yet.  Somebody saw your picture on the news and phoned in, that’s all.  We get tips like that all the time and half they time they’re just somebody looking for a reward. This guy didn’t ask if there was a reward or not, but they usually do.”

She thought for a while, then shook her head.

“No…that name doesn’t make anything come back.  Do you know anything else?”

“The caller said Corrine is an escort.”

She looked at me in disbelief.

“You’re saying I’m a prostitute?”

I put my hand on her shoulder.

“No, I’m not saying anything.  That’s just what the caller said.  An escort isn’t the same thing as a prostitute anyway.  Well, sometimes they are, but they don’t have to be.  Escorts are pretty woman some men pay to go out with.”

“I don’t think I could ever be one of those.”

“I have another name too.  Does Cindy Davis ring any bells?”

Her brow wrinkled for a few seconds and then she shook her head again.

“No, not that name either.”

“Your fingerprints belong to her.  That almost has to be who you are, but that’s where it gets more confusing.  According to the Biloxi, Mississippi Police, Cindy Davis has been dead for nine years.  She was killed in Katrina, well, listed as missing actually, but later declared dead.”

“Then, how could I be her?”

“I don’t know, but the FBI is almost never wrong about fingerprints.”

“I suppose they took my fingerprints because I was being arrested.”

“Yes, on drug charges - possession of marijuana.’

We were beside a seat on the walk path.  She sat down and put her face in her hands.

“So I’m either a convict or I’m a prostitute…or maybe both.  I could have lived the rest of my life with knowing that.”

I patted her on the shoulder.

“You’re not a convict.  You never went to trial.”

“I didn’t?”

“No.  Katrina hit before that.”

“If I’m this Cindy person, they’ll still want me, won’t they?”

“I doubt it.  The statute of limitations in Mississippi is two years for something like that.  They could extend it if they think you really tried to hide, but they have better things to do.  I’ll have to notify them, but since you were a minor then and  haven’t been in trouble since, they’ll probably just close the case. Possession of marijuana isn’t quite the offense it used to be.  The DA there probably won’t want to go through the expense of a trial.”

She looked up at me.

“When do you have to do it, tell them, I mean?  I’d like some time to think and try to remember.”

I probably should have said I’d notify them in the morning, and then taken her to jail so I was sure she’d be there if they still wanted her.  I couldn’t make myself do that.  

“I can probably wait a day or two.  You won’t try to run on me, will you?”

She shook her head.

“No.  I don’t care anymore how this comes out.  I just want it to be over.  I don’t know where I’d go even if I did.”

“Well, at least we know who you are now.  Maybe that’ll help.”

She looked up at me.

“It doesn’t.”

She looked so hurt and vulnerable I couldn’t just leave her like that.  I needed to do something if only to make myself feel better.  The words just sort of made themselves up as I spoke.

“I don’t like seeing you like this.  It isn’t the end of the world.  It’s Friday and I don’t have to work tomorrow.  How about if I buy you dinner tonight?  Would that cheer you up a little?”

She smiled.

“It might.  I could forget about trying to remember for a while.”

After I cleared it with New Beginnings, I took her to a pizza place because she said she wasn’t dressed for anything fancy.  It felt pretty good to be sitting across from her in the booth.  I hadn’t actually taken a woman out to eat in six years or so, and I decided I should do it more often.

It was having someone there who didn’t talk about the latest perp they’d hauled in or how hard they’d had to run to bring him down.  It was having a woman with me who was pretty in spite of the lack of makeup and sexy clothes.  I found myself hoping we could do the same thing the next night.

She seemed happier when we walked back to my car.  She’d put her arm in mine and wasn’t saying anything, but she was at least smiling.

We were almost to my car when I heard a man’s voice say, “Hi, Cindy.  It’s been a while.”

I turned toward the voice.  The man was standing just outside the arc of light from the street light.  I could see his clothes but the ball cap on his head kept his face in shadow.  I started to say I was a cop and for him to leave, but Cindy interrupted me.

“Don…your Don.”

The man chuckled.

“That’s right, I’m Don.  It’s time to pay for what you did to me in Biloxi.”

“I didn’t do anything to you.”

The guy stepped into the arc of the street light then.  He looked old.  His face was wrinkled and what hair I could see around the ball cap was white.  He raised his right arm then and I saw the pistol.  His voice went up in pitch as he spit out the words.

“Yes you did, you fucking little bitch.  You ratted me out to the cops.  I spent two years in hell because of you and when I got out I couldn’t find you.  I thought you were dead until last week.

“I saw your picture on the news in Atlanta and drove here to see for myself.  When you came out of that nut house with this guy, I knew it was you so I followed you here.  Get in the fucking car.  Boyfriend, you drive while I sit in the back.  We’re gonna take us a little ride out in the country.”

Cindy was trembling and her voice was shaky.

 “So you can kill me like you said you would?”

“Yeah, something like that, ‘cept you and me, we’re gonna have us a little fun first.  I’ll let your boyfriend watch while you suck my dick for me.  Now, get in the fucking car, and you, asshole, don’t try anything or I’ll pop you both right here.”

I patted Cindy on the arm and then walked around to the driver’s side of the SUV.  He couldn’t see me while I stood on my right leg and fumbled trying to get the key in the lock with my left hand.  He also didn’t see my right hand lift my left pant leg and pull the snub thirty eight from the ankle holster I carry as a backup and when off duty.  When I had the revolver in my hand, I stepped sideways until I had a clear shot over the hood and yelled, “Police.  Drop the weapon.”

He turned toward me and I saw a flash of fire leave the muzzle of his pistol and then the loud bang.  Cindy screamed when the passenger side window of my car shattered.  He was turning toward her when I pulled the trigger twice.

Cindy screamed again when my first shot caught the guy in the center of his chest.  The pistol fell out of his hand as he started to go down. Since he was falling, my second shot hit a little higher.  I ran around my car, kicked the pistol away from his body, and then turned to Cindy.

“Cindy, are you OK.”

She was sobbing.

“No, I’m not.”

I put my arms around her and held her until she stopped crying.  Then, I lifted her chin and looked her in the eyes.

“Cindy, did you know this guy?”

She nodded.

“When I heard his voice, I remembered.  He was the guy who sold me the marijuana.  When I got arrested, the police said if I told them who sold it to me, I’d get a shorter sentence.  That’s all I remember.  Is he dead?”

“He can’t bother you anymore.”

I put Cindy in my car and then used my cell phone to call the station.  Ten minutes later, two patrol cars and the EMT’s drove up.  I explained what had gone down and handed them my revolver, and then took Cindy back to the station with me while they cleaned up the mess.  After getting us both a cup of coffee, I sat her down in an interrogation room.

“Cindy, I know this is hard, but do you remember the guy’s full name?”

“Don Wilson, at least that’s what the police said when they told me I had to testify against him.”

“Do you remember anything else?”

“Yes, but it’s just bits and pieces from then.  I remember being on the witness stand and saying it was him who sold me the marijuana.  He jumped up and said he’d get me.”

I patted her on the arm.

“Well, he can’t get you now.  You just sit tight.  I’m going to find out who he was.”

Don had a long history but only two convictions.  Cindy’s testimony had put him away for two years.  Once he got out, he’d made his way up through the Dixie Mafia until he controlled the drug sales for Mississippi, Alabama, and most of Georgia.  Along the way, he’d been arrested multiple times on charges ranging  from dealing drugs to murder, but hadn’t been convicted on any of the them.  The witnesses who were supposed to testify had always either changed their story once on the witness stand or had gone missing a few days before the trials.

He was fifty six by the time he made the mistake of letting an underling into his inner circle.  That underling was an undercover cop.  Don and most of his lieutenants went down for a variety of charges, and he spent the next fifteen years in prison.  He’d been out for about a year, but had apparently retired.  There weren’t any other arrests or other entries on his record.

I had a report to write and it couldn’t wait until morning.  Cindy was sitting in the chair with her fingers interlocked and she was rocking back and forth.  I gently separated them and held her hands in mine.

“Cindy, I have to write a report tonight.  I’ll get another officer to take you back to New Beginnings.”

“No, please don’t do that.   I don’t want to go anywhere with anybody else, not after this.  Can’t I just stay here with you until you get done?”

I finished the report at three AM, read it over, and then dropped it in the Captain’s inbox. Then I went to the lounge where I’d left Cindy.

She was asleep on the couch and I hated to wake her, but it was late and I was beat.  I’d called New Beginnings before I started my report and told them she’d be late getting back.  They hadn’t called the station yet, but if I didn’t get her back soon, they probably would.  I shook her arm gently.

“Cindy, wake up.  It’s time to leave.”

She stretched, then opened her eyes.

“Are you going to take me back to New Beginnings?”

“That’s what I’d planned to do.  I’m about done in and I need to go home and sleepl”

“I’d feel safer if I was with you.  Can’t I just sleep on your couch?  I don’t want to be alone tonight.”

She looked so afraid I couldn’t say no to her.  I called New Beginnings again and told them she’d be at the station until sometime the next day.

I thought I was probably dreaming when my alarm went off at six the next morning, because I always shut it off before I go to bed on Friday night.  I was sure I was dreaming when I shut it off and then turned over to go back to sleep because my arm touched something smooth and soft.  I was sure anyway, until I heard Cindy’s voice.

“Do you always wake up this early?”

She was sitting up in bed beside me, and the smooth, soft thing my arm had touched had to be her thigh.  She had a pillow over her breasts so I couldn’t tell for sure, but it looked a lot like she was naked.  I looked up at her smiling face.

“Cindy, what are you doing in my bed?”

“It was lonely on your couch.  I thought it wouldn’t be as lonely in here.  I tried to wake you up to tell you, but wouldn’t wake up.”

Well, that was probably true.  When I’m really tired, I wouldn’t wake up if a bomb went off outside my bedroom window.

“Uh…it doesn’t look like you have many clothes on.”

Cindy smiled again.

“I always sleep in the nude…I think.”

“That means I’ll have to get up first so you can get dressed while I’m in the bathroom.”

“Well, it could mean that…but it doesn’t have to.”

“I’m not sure what you mean.”

“I remembered something else while you were writing your report.  Since I was in high school, when I felt sad or depressed about something, there was only one thing that made me feel better.  I feel pretty depressed after last night.  I need to forget what I remembered for a while.”

“What would make you forget?”

Cindy pulled the pillow from her breasts and tossed it on the floor.

“This, unless you don’t want me.  I was hoping you would.  I really, really need you to want me.”

When I didn’t say anything, Cindy snuggled up to my side.  I felt her bare thigh slide over mine, and then the tickle of hair against my leg.  She kissed me, then put her cheek against mine.

“I want this so much.  Just go easy for a while.  I don’t remember how long it’s been.”

I wasn’t sure, that morning, if it was just the emotional stress from the night before or if it was just how Cindy was, but she became the vision I’d always had about the woman I’d spend my life with.  It wasn’t the soft, sensuous body she tried to press against me and it wasn’t the way she responded to every touch.  It was more like…well, it just felt right, like she was what I’d been waiting a long time for.

She did respond to every touch, and that response had me wanting to take her fast because I needed to, but at the same time knowing that wasn’t what she needed.  It was the way she responded that told me that, I guess.

Her nipples stiffened at the first touch, and she purred out a little moan when I stroked the tips.  I felt her press her mound into my leg and cupped her hip to pull her closer.  She rocked her hips once, and then eased her body on top of me.  When she raised up on her arms, she pushed her left breast against my cheek, and then shuddered when the nipple brushed my lips.

When I closed my lips around her nipple, Cindy shuddered again, and I felt her hips rock.  My cock was rigid by then, and when her hips did that, it slipped between her soft lips.

I felt her wetness as she stroked my cock between those full soft lips.  She moaned again, then put her open mouth on mine and kissed me, except it wasn’t really a kiss.  It was more a prelude to what was to follow.  Her small tongue slipped into my mouth and found mine.  The tingles that raced down my spine made my cock twitch.  Cindy felt that, and moaned again.

I’m not sure how long that went on, but I didn’t really care.  I was lost in the feeling of her soft breasts in my hands and the little moans she made when I touched her nipples and nipple beds.  I was lost in the way her wet lips got wetter as she rubbed them over my cock.  I was just lost in the woman who gave all of herself into pleasuring us both.

Cindy was breathing faster when she moved forward a little.  My cock popped up then, and she sighed as she eased back.  I felt her moving her body to get the position right, and groaned when she started backing over my cock.  It pushed though her full lips, found her entrance, and then started slipping inside her as she pushed back a little harder.

Cindy was pretty tight, and when my cock stopped going in, she moved back up a little and then pushed back down again.  She groaned when it slipped through the tight ring just inside her entrance.

It was taking everything I had to not ram my cock in the rest of the way.  I wanted to do that.  I wanted to feel her warm depths around my cock, but I understood she needed to go just as slowly as she was going.  It was an exquisite torture to feel my cock slipping inside her a fraction of an inch at a time, each little slip causing Cindy to catch her breath or moan into my mouth as she teased my tongue with hers.  It was more erotic than anything I’d ever felt in my life.

Once my cock was all the way in, Cindy didn’t speed up.  She just began stroking her body over my cock.  At the end of each stroke, she pushed down hard, and my cock slipped into some place very wet that sucked at the head when she pulled away again.  

It’s hard to describe how that felt except to say that after a few minutes, I could feel the end coming, but it seemed to be happening really slowly.  Cindy kept me almost ready, but not quite, and the tension I felt building was incredible.  

I felt the same tension in Cindy.  She still wasn’t going any faster, but I kept feeling little contractions around my cock, and she was starting to gasp when my cock sank into her clasping depths.  Her gasps soon became panting breaths interspersed with little moans.  

Cindy’s body jerked then and my cock slipped out.  She ground her mound down on top of it and started to shake.  She cried out as she stroked her clit over my shaft, then lifted her body and pushed back until she was impaled again.  Her cry as she started to stroke rapidly took away all my self-control.  I thrust my cock into her stroke and groaned.  Cindy cried out “Oh God, now”.  After that, I lost track of what was happening.  All I remember is the shaking of her body as she rocked her hips up and down over my cock, her little cries as the waves swept through her, and the feeling of my seed racing up my shaft and splattering deep inside her.

When Cindy stopped panting and rocking her hips, she eased her breasts down on my chest and put her cheek against mine.

“Mmm…I needed that.”

I stroked her hip and she shuddered.

“Oh God, it’s still happening.”

I could feel that it was.  When I stroked her hip again, I felt her passage tighten around my cock and heard her moan.  That tightening feeling and her moans gradually tapered off until all I felt was her heart beating against my chest.  She nibbled my earlobe.

“Can we just stay like this?  I don’t want to go back there.”

I stroked Cindy’s back.

“I don’t want you to leave either.”

“Then I won’t…ever.”

I did take her back to New Beginnings that afternoon and lied that I needed her for the next couple days as part of the purse snatching investigation.  I knew Dr. Rice would have to release her before she could actually leave.  I took her to see him at four on Monday.  After their talk, he came out of the room by himself.

“She remembers that her name is Cindy, and she told me what happened with the trial and on Friday night.  That’s a sign she’s on her way to remembering some if not all of her life.  I think it was a combination of the bump on the head and the emotional trauma of the trial that triggered her amnesia.  She’d probably been carrying the memories of the trial with her all these years, and the bump on the head was an excuse, if you will, for her brain to forget.

“Now that she remembers some of her past, she’s going to need help for a while.  As things come back to her, she’ll need someone to help her make sense of those things.  She says she wants you to be that someone.  It may be just that she trusts you or it may be something deeper than that.  I can’t tell right now.  Can you be that someone for her, at least until she remembers who she really is and where she wants to go from here?  I’ll still see her once a week to keep tabs on how she’s doing, but she really needs someone there for her more often than that.”

I said I could and asked if that meant he’d release her from New Beginnings.  He frowned.

“She told me about you and her on Saturday morning as well.  You need to understand that she’s pretty vulnerable to anything that makes her feel safe now.  I’m assuming if I release her, she’ll be staying with you.  I’m not sure that’s a good idea, but it’s what she wants.  

You need to understand that as she remembers, she might decide she needs to move on.   I’ll release her, but you need to be prepared for her to leave you someday.  That sounds cold, but you need to know the truth.”

Cindy came home with me that afternoon after we went shopping so she’d have some clean clothes to wear.  After six months, she’s still with me, and she hasn’t shown any signs of wanting to change that.  I hope she doesn’t.  I can’t imagine life without her again.

She started remembering, slowly at first, but as she did, things started coming back faster and faster.  It seemed to help things along after I called the DA in Biloxi and explained her situation.  The former DA had already closed the case because she’d been declared dead, and the current one didn’t see any benefits to anyone by re-opening it.  Cindy was overjoyed to hear that.  It was two weeks later she remembered some more of what happened in Biloxi.

She’d testified at the trial and Don had indeed threatened her.  Her parents wouldn’t let her leave the house after that.  They were afraid Don would somehow make good on his threat.

When the Katrina warnings started, her father and mother made the decision to weather the storm in their home.  Her father boarded the windows and moved everything to the second floor of the house.  He’d done the same thing before and had always come through the storm.

Cindy doesn’t remember very much about Katrina other than hearing the wind screeching around their house and later being pulled off some floating wreckage by two men in a boat.  They took her to a temporary shelter.  From there, she went to a shelter in Jackson where she got something to eat and some dry clothes.

Doctor Rice says she may never remember what happened then, but that would probably be for the best. He said the Katrina survivors who remember often have PTSD as a result.  Not remembering is her brain’s way of protecting Cindy from something too traumatic for her to live with.

It was strange to me how her memories came back.  I thought they’d be sequential, like what happened in Biloxi first, then Katrina, then the last nine years, and finally the purse snatching.  It didn’t happen that way.  Cindy remembered Don that night, but it took her two more weeks to piece together the memory of what happened to her when Katrina hit.  Cindy remembered the address of her apartment a week after she moved in with me.  

I drove her over.  She didn’t still have her key.  Willard had lost that when he dumped her purse, but the super recognized her.

“Hi, Corrine.  You been on vacation or something?”

Cindy looked a little odd at first, but then she blinked and then smiled.

“Yes, I have Walt, and I lost my keys.  Can I get another one?”

He grinned.

“Anything for a pretty woman.  I’ll add it to your rent.  It’s due next week.  Don’t forget now.”

Cindy looked at me and squeezed my hand.

“Walt, I found another place to live.  I just came over to pick up my things.”

Walt looked disappointed when he handed her a new key.  I could understand that.  The building was in an up-scale part of town.  Apartments there went for a thousand a month and up.  Walt might have to wait a while before he found someone else who’d pay that much.

Cindy opened the door, walked inside, and then stopped and stared around the living room.

“How did I afford all this?”

I saw what she meant.  The couch and chair were leather.  The coffee table looked like solid wood, not just a picture of wood over particleboard like mine.  The lamps on the end tables looked expensive as well, and there were several paintings in expensive looking frames hanging on the walls.

“I think you’re the only one who can answer that.”

She sighed.

“Maybe I was an escort like that man said.”

I hugged her because she looked like she needed a hug.

“You aren’t now, and that’s all that’s important to me.”

Her bedroom was the same.  The bed was more a work of art than a bed, and the two dressers matched it.  The closet made her stop and stare again.

Dresses of velvet and material that glittered when it moved hung from hangers on the rod.  On the floor were around thirty pairs of shoes, stilletto heels in several colors, lower, but still expensive looking heels in as many colors, running shoes, hiking boots, and simple loafers.

There was no way I was going to carry that much stuff to my car unless it was in boxes.  While Cindy emptied the dresser drawers onto the bed, I went to buy some.  When I came back, she was sitting on the floor crying.  I asked her why.

“I found this in one of the dresser drawers.  Look.”

I was just a shoe box, but inside were stacks of bills.  There were several  hundreds.  Most were twenties and tens.  That explained why she didn’t have any credit cards in her purse.  With that much cash, she wouldn’t have needed any.

“I counted it.  There’s a little over thirty thousand dollars in there.”

I had to chuckle.

“Why are you crying?  I’d think you’d be happy.”

“I’m crying because of what I probably did to get it.  You won’t want me now that you know that I…that I let other men…What if one of them recognizes me?”

She started to sob again then.  I pulled her to her feet and held her until she stopped, then lifted her chin.

“Cindy, nobody’s perfect, and everybody has done a few things they’re not proud of.  I don’t know if you did that or not, but if you did, you had to do it to survive.  I can’t fault you for that, and I already told you it doesn’t make a difference to me.

“As for being recognized, yes, that might happen, but it won’t go anywhere.  If you were an escort, everything in this apartment tells me you were a pretty expensive date.  Any man who could afford you would probably rather no one knew.  He wouldn’t take the risk of making contact.”

I grinned.

“Besides, if he did, well, that’s what I’m here for.”

It took three hours to box up everything and carry it down to my SUV.  I can haul a lot of stuff, but all the boxes pretty much filled it up.  It took another hour to carry them into my house and stash them in the spare bedroom.  

The next morning while I was working, Cindy called a moving company to pick up her furniture and put it in storage.  She wanted to bring it to my house too, but I remembered Doctor Rice’s caution that some day she might want to leave.  If that ever happens, I don’t want it to turn into a hassle.

Her memories are still coming back.  Yesterday, she remembered how she disappeared.  

She was in the shelter in Jackson, and heard the newscaster on the radio say there were already several people who’d been found dead and that more were expected.  He also said there would probably be some people classed as missing because their bodies would never be found.

She thought about Don’s threat and she knew his reputation.  The word on the street was that he’d killed a few people who’d gotten in his way.  I’d seen that in his file as well.  Nothing was ever proven, but she believed he’d kill her or have her killed if he could.  The only way she could escape was to disappear.

In all the chaos to get people to shelters, no one had asked her name, age, or where she’d lived. When they finally did, she told them she was Corrine Draves, that she was nineteen, and she’d lived in Gulfport.  Corrine was the name of her great aunt, and Draves was her mother’s maiden name.  As far as anyone knew, Cindy Davis had been washed out to sea, and would be listed as missing.

Cindy still hasn’t remembered being an escort, but like Katrina, that’s probably something her brain would rather not remember.  I believe she was, but I haven’t pushed her to try to remember that.  I think it might have been that more than the trial that triggered her amnesia.  It doesn’t really matter to me.  She’s Cindy now and not Corrine.

As far as I’m concerned, the money in the shoe box was a gift from Corrine to Cindy. No one but Cindy and I know about it.  She opened a bank account and deposited it in small amounts every month like she would a paycheck or tips, so the bank didn’t have to file anything other than an annual interest statement to Cindy.  She’ll pay taxes on the interest, but the money should be pretty safe from the IRS.  

That’s not strictly legal, but I think Cindy has been through enough for one lifetime.  I doubt the IRS would ever come looking for her anyway.  Corrine never had a social security card and never paid taxes.  They won’t have any record of her.

Cindy remembered her sister, Katy, a few weeks ago.  She found her on one of the social media sites and sent her a message.  That message and the next one weren’t answered, but after Cindy included some information only she and Katy would know, she got a response.  They’ve talked on the phone several times, so Katy knows how and why Cindy disappeared and that Cindy isn’t going to claim anything from their father’s estate.  We’re going to drive to Indiana when I take my vacation so they can see each other.

I’m happy with our life like it is.  We’re about like any married couple, I suppose, though we’re not married.  We both know it’s too early to talk about that, so we haven’t.  Cindy takes care of the house while I go to work.  Most weekends we eat out on Saturday night and then go to a club she likes.  

Those Saturdays are really special to me.  I knew Cindy was a pretty woman when I first saw her.  When she does her hair and makeup, and then puts on one of those velvet or sparkly dresses, stockings and heels, she’s absolutely beautiful.  She seems to like the stares we get when we walk into a restaurant or club, and I do too.  I really like it that she just grins and tightens her arm in mine or squeezes my hand.

During the week, things are pretty quiet around the house.  Usually we watch TV after dinner and then go to bed about ten.  Some nights, Cindy will snuggle up to me and whisper, “I think my amnesia is coming back.  I’ve forgotten what it feels like.  Would you show me again.”

I’m more than happy to do just that.

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